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So that's why it's called IPA
June 17, 2008 9:31 AM   Subscribe

Have you ever wondered what a real IPA tasted like after the long, hot journey to India? Pete Brown found out.

Brown, author of Man Walks Into a Pub and Three Sheets to the Wind, ventured to take a pin (named "Barry") of some very special India Pale Ale, brewed by the White Shield Brewery, from its home in Burton-on-Trent to Calcutta, following the traditional route around the Cape of Good Hope. Though Barry met an untimely demise in Tenerife, and missed part of the journey, he was replaced by Jerry and Kevin in Brazil, who sailed around the Cape with Pete, arriving in India five weeks later.

How did they taste? Jerry was "punchy" and, yet, still "balanced," given his 7% ABV. Kevin, who had been dry-hopped during the journey, made a grand entrance, and was something else entirely. Both were, as expected, quite changed from their travels.

Although the book has been delayed until 2009, you can read all about the journey, and other beer issues, on his blog.
posted by uncleozzy (53 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
As skeptical as I am of a beer writer who claims to have a "favourite beer style", this is unbelievably awesome. Thanks for the post!
posted by gurple at 9:38 AM on June 17, 2008


IPAs are my favorite beers, and traditional-rig is my favorite way to travel, so this is a winner. Thanks!
posted by Miko at 9:46 AM on June 17, 2008


I wonder if it's anything like the Linie akvavits, which have to cross the equator twice.
posted by jenkinsEar at 9:53 AM on June 17, 2008


gurple, I used to think that IPAs were my favorite style until I realized that I just really, really like beer. A reasonably hot week in Germany, where beer was as cheap as water, and tastier, gave me newfound appreciation for Helles and Hefeweizen, both of which I would have previously shunned.

I still like American IPAs, though. Can't get enough of those West Coast hops. English IPAs often leave me wishing for a little less body and a little more aroma. Which is funny, because Brown has the opposite complaint: that American IPAs are overhopped and lack balance.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:59 AM on June 17, 2008


Great stuff—thanks for the post! (And if you're going to try akvavit, for god's sake drink Linie, accept no substitutes. Cheap akevit can be nasty.)
posted by languagehat at 10:03 AM on June 17, 2008


Damn, and here I am working a normal 9-to-5 job like a sucker.

Awesome blog. Wish I could have tried some of that IPA after it made the trip. I had some White Shield when we were in England last month, which was pretty good, but trying it dry-hopped from a barrel that had just come round the world would be even better.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:06 AM on June 17, 2008


There is no beer hoppy enough to satisfy me and they can be as unbalanced as they wanna be as long as the HOPS NEARLY KILL.
posted by tristeza at 10:06 AM on June 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


His report of Barry's death threw me a bit:
I slit open the cellophane wrapping the bag - the thick layer of cellophane - and opened the bag. An empty barrel, a puddle of stale beer and dry hops, with the bung from the barrel floating in the bottom. Barry had committed suicide. I hadnĀ“t realized our relationship had deteriorated that far.
Since I didn't read any of his earlier entries, I wasn't aware of any conflict that this guy had had with Barry, so I read on...

Only to find that there's no further mention of Barry, or, for that matter, no affect from the writer that anyone had ACTUALLY died.

The 'decesed' bit gets a little lost on the page and none of the commenters really bothers to pick up on it and ask for details.

Someone might want to run a Voight-Kampff test on the author.
posted by vhsiv at 10:12 AM on June 17, 2008


There is no beer hoppy enough to satisfy me and they can be as unbalanced as they wanna be as long as the HOPS NEARLY KILL.

I am now imagining you dressed in a drugstore Halloween vampire costume crouching on a giant mound of hops. Your eyes are wide and crazy with rapture as your clawed hands scrabble at the pile below you, green-stained fingers scooping up the fresh flowers and forcing them into your rictus-grin mouth. Greenish slurry dribbles down your chin as you shout, "MORE! MORE!!"

At that signal, the vats of beer hung from rusted chain overhead begin to tip as your slaves, each of them a former brewer kidnapped from Stone, Three Floyds, Dogfishhead, and the like, work the vast gears with frail, wort-stained arms. Cool fresh beer, obtained from the hoppiest breweries in the land pour into the funnel above your head. The chanting of the slaves, "FIDELIS HUMULUS LUPULUS EXCELCIOR" almost drowns out your calls for more hops.

Somewhere, a clock strikes midnight.

From the funnel's tip bursts a stream of Double, nay Triple, nay More! IPAs. The sacred liquid pours into your waiting mouth where it is dry-hopped by the dark green chaw pressed into your cheeks.

Your eyes roll back into your head. You see the universe unfold.

Then you see nothing.

The clock ceases to chime.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:25 AM on June 17, 2008 [17 favorites]


There is no beer hoppy enough to satisfy me and they can be as unbalanced as they wanna be as long as the HOPS NEARLY KILL.

Me too.

You might really like Moonlight Brewing Company's Homegrown. If you ever get down to the SF Bay Area in the fall, you might want to check it out. It's insanely hoppy, and is served with a fresh hop bud in the glass.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:43 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dogfish's 120 minute IPA is the king of all IPA's I've had. It's 20% ABV and heavenly.
posted by yeti at 10:55 AM on June 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


mmmm . . . bitter beer . . . mmmm

*
/bitter beer mouth
posted by killy willy at 11:01 AM on June 17, 2008


There is no beer hoppy enough to satisfy me

When I'm in that mood, there's always Stone's Ruination.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:02 AM on June 17, 2008


There is no beer hoppy enough to satisfy me and they can be as unbalanced as they wanna be as long as the HOPS NEARLY KILL.

Hello. Are you me?
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on June 17, 2008


(Doh! Fantastic post. Thank you thank you thank you!)

mmmm....beeeeerrrr
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on June 17, 2008


Outstanding post.
posted by three blind mice at 11:24 AM on June 17, 2008


I dry-hop my distilled water, that's how much I love hops. I only drink septuple IPAs.
posted by thedaniel at 11:24 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


There is no beer hoppy enough to satisfy me and they can be as unbalanced as they wanna be as long as the HOPS NEARLY KILL.

Hello. Are you me?


Heh heh heh - I was hoping that this admission would get me some recommendations. For serious, if I can't smell the pint coming at me from a yard away, it ain't hoppy enough.

I live in Seattle, so this is usually not a problem. Going back east to visit family, though, fucking kills me because I have to drink whatever swill I can find there. Ug. I dread my vacations for this reason.

In bars, at least, the taps are horrible - a lot of grocery stores now have pretty decent selections. But I want to cry when I go to a bar in Boston or Maine and ask "what's your hoppiest beer?" and they reply with "Sam Adams Amber". *weep*
posted by tristeza at 11:32 AM on June 17, 2008


This is going to be a long thread.

Yay :)
posted by sidereal at 11:39 AM on June 17, 2008


hoppy, malty, whatever, long as it gets you drunk.
posted by jonmc at 11:55 AM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm really glad that people dig this story. I've always wondered about how IPAs were different in the days before the Suez Canal. It's nice to see someone with a real interest in Real Ale try it out and have fun with it.

I want to cry when I go to a bar in Boston or Maine and ask "what's your hoppiest beer?" and they reply with "Sam Adams Amber"

Well, in Boston, at least, you should be able to get a Harpoon IPA in most places. Which is a far sight better than I generally get around here. I've taken to drinking amber lagers (Blue Point Toasted, mostly) around home because they're generally the best thing on tap. Although they're opening a new beer bar a few steps from my usual Happy Hour haunt, so that ought to mean some decent beers on a Friday night for a change.

hoppy, malty, whatever, long as it gets you drunk

A place opened about 300 feet from my house with $5 High Life pitchers all day, every day. I would be an ass to turn my nose up at that.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:58 AM on June 17, 2008


Dogfish's 120 minute IPA is the king of all IPA's I've had. It's 20% ABV and heavenly.

Something about the 120 minute tastes too sweet to me (unless our local liquor store just got a bad batch, which is also possible), but I absolutely adore both their 60 and 90 minute IPAs.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:00 PM on June 17, 2008


(I should note that I don't mean to imply that Blue Point Toasted Lager isn't decent, because it's a fine beer, but it's a bit of a one-trick pony, the trick being drinkability, and isn't helped by the frequently-dirty taps it's run through around here.)
posted by uncleozzy at 12:08 PM on June 17, 2008


I just started home brewing, and made the Brewhouse IPA for my first batch, adding dry hops and some extra sugar. Insane. You have to kill yourself after you drink it because you can't live!
posted by No Robots at 12:15 PM on June 17, 2008


Well, in Boston, at least, you should be able to get a Harpoon IPA in most places.

My problem is that I'm SOOOO spoiled by Seattle beer that to me a Harpoon tastes like some sort of beerish liquid.
posted by tristeza at 12:15 PM on June 17, 2008


tristeza, have you tried Sunset Grill and Tap in Allston? They have 100 beers on tap and about a bajillion more in bottles. I always end up ordering the BBC Imperial Stout though. Sigh.

Dogfish Head's 90 minute IPA is fabulously delicious (Raison D'Etre is damn tasty too). Harpoon IPA is just not that great. Will drink if it's the only good beer listed, will drink happily in a multi-pack, will not buy on its own.
posted by giraffe at 12:27 PM on June 17, 2008


SOOOO spoiled by Seattle beer

Okay, well, I have an assignment for you. Spend a month drinking nothing over 5.5% ABV. Nothing maltier than, say, Sam Boston Ale or hoppier than Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. But sample a variety. Drink as many different beers in this style as you can find. Think about each one, ways they're different, ways they're similar. Have a really cold Budweiser on a hot day. A Brooklyn Pilsner with something off the grill. Something wheaty under a shade tree.

By the end of the month, you'll at least appreciate smaller beers, if not actually enjoy them. I used to be into the bigger-is-better beer mentality, but there are a lot of styles--pilsners, hefeweizens, bitters, the list goes on--that can be every bit as good as the imperial-whatzit that kicks you in the teeth and steals your baby.

Not that I'll turn down a 90-Minute, but if I'm having more than one, give me something smaller any time.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:36 PM on June 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Dogfish 120 minute IPA that I had was, indeed, sweet--just loaded with everything beer can have, hops, malt, alcohol, sort of an uber-beer. I had it at the Dogfish Alehouse in Falls Church, VA, so I'm pretty sure I got an exemplary pour.
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:39 PM on June 17, 2008


tristeza, I was coming back to recommend Tupper's Hop Pocket Ale, which was brewed by Old Dominion and might have had some reach north of New Jersey (not sure about that. Sadly, though, "was brewed" is correct.

Oh, and I like beers that aren't HOPPY!!!!, too. But a HOPPY!!!!! beer is usually the first thing I choose (but not the only).

If you find yourself in Healdsburg, CA, run very very quickly to Bear Republic brewery for Racer X, which they don't bottle, so you can only get it at the brewpub or in a growler. The Racer 5 is wicked good too, and comes in a six-pack for your home-drinking convenience. All their stuff is good.

Good heavens. What I wouldn't give to be drinking a nice hoppy ale right now instead of editing this stupid document.
posted by rtha at 12:43 PM on June 17, 2008


I want to cry when I go to a bar in Boston or Maine and ask "what's your hoppiest beer?" and they reply with "Sam Adams Amber"

Smuttynose IPA. I'll put it up against a sixpack of West Coast IPAs any day of the week.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 12:44 PM on June 17, 2008


This is what's great about beer: so many different types to like that are so different from each other, and so many regional variations. No palate is right or wrong except the palate that refuses to try everything.
My beer snobbery was forged on the west coast, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the hell out of a Harpoon or a Saranac when I'm in the area.

I was about to make a jackass comment about what it would take to get me to drink a pitcher of High Life, but you know what? there's a place for that stuff, too.
posted by gurple at 12:52 PM on June 17, 2008


I was about to make a jackass comment about what it would take to get me to drink a pitcher of High Life, but you know what? there's a place for that stuff, too.

I use beer in barbecue mops and rubs, and I calculated that the cheapest beer I could buy per fluid ounce was a 15-pack of Carling Black Label in cans. I find that stuff much more drinkable than any other cheap beer I've tried except Narragansett. (which I drink because it's from Rhode Island which makes everything better except politics)
posted by mkb at 12:59 PM on June 17, 2008


mkb: The Narragansett Bock and Porter are brewed in RI, the lager is brewed in Rochester, NY. There was some movement a couple years back to try to get the original 'Gansett brewery back up and running ... I don't know what happened with that.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 1:04 PM on June 17, 2008


(For all you Boston people, don't forget that the American Craft Beer Fest is this weekend.)
posted by uncleozzy at 1:22 PM on June 17, 2008


I just posted an askme about doing a belgian beer tour. You're all welcome to meet up with me at some point for real beer.
posted by srboisvert at 1:40 PM on June 17, 2008


Is "NOT HOPPY ENUFF!" the beer equivalent of the tough-guy hot pepper eaters "NOT HOT ENUFF!"?

I've been brewing maltier or more balanced styles lately, mainly because it's so easy to find a big hoppy beer anywhere you care to look. But when's the last time you found a Scottish 60 shilling on tap? I just made one, with a 1/2 oz of Goldings at 60 minutes, and that's it. Cry, west coasters. Cry hard.

But y'know, it's really good. It's not a bitter hoppy explosion. It's a mild, low alcohol maltfest that actually makes you not thirsty and you can drink all day without risking blackout. It's the perfect thing for boating or the beach on a hot sunny day, when a west coast IPA would give you a blinding headache by noon. It's like Budwesier for people who actually like beer.

Anyway. There's a tremendous range of styles and tastes out there. Don't do your mouth a disservice by only drinking one thing.
posted by rusty at 2:04 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Dogfish is God.
posted by Dizzy at 2:12 PM on June 17, 2008


Mulp: the remnants of the old brewery were torn down and turned into a shopping center.
posted by mkb at 2:23 PM on June 17, 2008


Is "NOT HOPPY ENUFF!" the beer equivalent of the tough-guy hot pepper eaters "NOT HOT ENUFF!"?

Yes, and there is a fairly cruel irony at work here.

I enjoy IPAs and have brewed more of them than I can recount at the moment. I also know a ton of the "NOT HOPPY ENUFF!" guys. Probably two or three tons, truth be told. Backslappers all, just real men's men, you know. Guys that'll taste an IIPA straight out of a Randall stuffed full of Amarillo/Simcoe/whatever ridiculously high alpha acid hops is de rigueur, then make a face like they've just stuck their tongue in a donkey's ear but ask for more because they think they'll lose face if they dare say, "wow, that tastes like ear wax. Get me something with a bit more balance, please." The majority GABF attendees consists of guys like that. (The sad thing is that beer judges are now conforming to this mentality, but that's a different topic altogether.)

Here's the irony: the testosterrifically manly men's men who're drinking the uber-hoppy beers as a sign of their machismo? They're actually undermining themselves. Excessive consumption of hops contributes significantly to "brewer's droop".
posted by cog_nate at 2:30 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I agree that the 120-minute is very sweet while also strong and bitter. The 90 minute is better for more periodic consumption while also more -hmmm, let's say- "economically sustainable" to the consumer ($2.50-$3.00/bottle vs. $8.00-$9.00). Then again, you only need a single 12 oz's of the 120 to get a buzz.

Smuttynose IPA is excellent as someone else mentioned as well as Redhook's Longhammer.
posted by yeti at 2:49 PM on June 17, 2008


You guys are great, these suggestions will help!

I DID have Smuttynose last summer in Maine - it IS good! Only at the packie tho, didn't see it in any bars back east.

uncleozzy - thanks for the "program", heh. I've been drinking beer for lo the last 18 years or so, and started out on Bud and its ilk, the past 8 years have been devoted to stronger and stronger hops. I've grown, man, you can't keep me down. ;)
posted by tristeza at 3:30 PM on June 17, 2008


*passes tristeza a 40 of Colt .45*

you need to relax...
posted by jonmc at 3:33 PM on June 17, 2008


No shit....I think I need to head to the Elysian after work for a few pints of Prometheus....
posted by tristeza at 3:36 PM on June 17, 2008


Say hello to Silenus for me.
posted by cog_nate at 4:34 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


tristeza: have you had Stone Ruination? If not, I highly recommend it. I prefer Dogfish 90 Minute, but the Ruination is pretty great too.
posted by The Michael The at 6:57 PM on June 17, 2008


Had to register to search site !? James Squire IPA for my taste
posted by dabcad at 7:02 PM on June 17, 2008


Had to register to search site !?

Read that as "webmaster not as clever as they thought".
posted by ryanrs at 7:14 PM on June 17, 2008


So what does an International Phonetic Alphabet taste like?
posted by gimonca at 9:16 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I love the hops and its cousin too. Went thru the uber hoppy stage as well, but I disagree on the macho angle, it's a flavor thing. Now I tend to seek a bit more balance but still digging a hoppy, citrusy IPA. Avery's is my current fav. Tasted too many to name at the recent Savor event here in DC. Unfortunately many of the brands are not available on the East Coast.

Dogfish Head? I prefer the 60 minute. Got too ripped on the 90 and 120 at a tasting so we had to break up. DFH CEO Sam Calagione is very entertaining at a tasting.

Tupper's? god what a tragedy. I am slightly acquainted with Bob and Elly from DC tastings. I have two bottles left...:(

Old Dominion was sold, "silent" (49%) partner: Anheuser Douche. Tupper's killed. Like Rolling Rock. I WILL NOT buy an AB product. Beer IS NOT made from rice! King of Beer, my ass! More like 500 pound gorilla. That's why so many stores and bars are dominated by Bud and Sam Adams (shame... they do have um, decent beer). The good news: more and more folks getting hip to craft beers, we were told by one of the speakers at Savor about 45% of beer sold in the US id produced by craft brewers.

To close, loved the Brit ales I got to try (many) on my trip in '05. Once I was used to the more balanced ale I enjoyed most I tasted. Huzzah to CAMRA.
posted by aiq at 9:36 AM on June 18, 2008


45% of beer sold in the US is produced by craft brewers? Maybe it's the sobriety talking, but I can't help but be a little skeptical of that figure.
posted by box at 11:27 AM on June 18, 2008


Came across this Forbes piece today, for all you lager-haters.

I brought a sixer of Paulaner Helles and a sixer of Victory Prima Pils to a BBQ last weekend, and the host--who had Stella Artois and Modelo Especial in a cooler--called them my "funny beers." Couldn't even get him to try the Paulaner to compare to his beloved Stella.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2008


(Also, according to the Brewer's Association, "Craft brewers' share of the beer category is 3.8 percent of production and 5.9 percent of retail sales.")
posted by uncleozzy at 11:50 AM on June 18, 2008


She probably said 4.5 percent. I suppose I misheard in a Freudian sort of way.
posted by aiq at 6:34 AM on June 19, 2008


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